SUGAR: artfully pitching proposals to senior management in 4 minutes flat

by Steve Seager

Artfully pitch social mediaYou have a cunning plan — a great idea on how you can use all this newfangled social digital technology stuffs to help your company tackle a particularly burning problem.

But before you spend a thousand hours crafting out a detailed proposal for your extremely busy boss, here’s a couple of things to think about:

1. No matter how brilliant it may be, any proposal is only as good as the pitch that sells it.

2. Many great ideas never see the light of day simply because they haven’t been developed in consultation with your boss or team. No buy-in. I have seen it happen many times. Bet you have too.

So I have a suggestion. My own cunning plan, if you will. A way of getting buy in before you invest lots of hours on that proposal.

Before I start, a disclaimer: I borrowed generously from this great pdf by Jim Lukaszewski, a big strategic gun in crisis communications, IABC regular speaker and PRSA fellow.

That said, here’s SUGAR…

1: Situation (30 seconds, one para, three lines)

Introduce the specific problem you will address. Focusing on only one problem gives clarity. You show you know your business. And define motivation for your cunning plan.

2: Urgency (30 seconds, one para, three lines)

Why do you need to address this now? What will happen if you don’t? You position the importance of your proposal to the organisation.

3: Goals (30 seconds, one para, three lines)

Outline the results your cunning plan is designed to deliver. How it will solve the problem you have outlined? Set expectations.

4. Alternatives (90 seconds, one para, three lines)

Outline three ways of tackling the business problem. Yep, three. Not one. They can be three completely different strategies, or approaches on the same strategy, and an alternative could even be do nothing. But give alternatives!

5: Recommendation (30 seconds, one para, three lines)

What’s your recommendation? Offer insights into why. Be critical. Think operational impacts, costs vs benefits. Justify.

And the killer closing line?

6: What do YOU think? (2 seconds)

Simply The Best Question You Can Ever Ask Your Boss TM

Once you have that feedback, you are already onto a winner.

Go, be cunning! Develop that plan further.

– Steve

Updated Feb 2015

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